Understanding Addiction: What it Means and How to Overcome It

Addiction is the inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. It is accepted as a mental illness in the diagnostic nomenclature and can lead to significant health, social, and economic problems. Addiction is determined multifactorially, with substantial genetic influence, and is also influenced by environmental factors. In the clinical context, addiction puts problematic substance use on the agenda and helps to focus on the difficulties associated with drug use.

But the concept of addiction can also be used to distance the consumer from addicts, and in this way, it can be countertherapeutic. The concept of addiction has also had a substantial influence on politics, leading to near-universal prohibition of drugs such as opiates, cocaine, cannabis, and amphetamine. Addiction is a chronic dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory. It's about the body's craving for a substance or behavior, especially if it causes a compulsive or obsessive search for “reward” and a lack of concern for the consequences.

When someone is addicted to something, not having it causes withdrawal symptoms or a crash. This can be unpleasant, so it's easier to keep having or doing what you want, and so the cycle continues. Lack or disruption of a person's social support system may result in substance or behavioral addiction. With basic research skills and a solid strategy in mind, however, you can filter out the noise and turn your new addiction into a healthier habit.

For example, someone addicted to coffee may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms such as severe headaches and irritability. The development towards a more respectful view of people suffering from addictions is not limited to low-threshold harm reduction or brief intervention. As an addiction progresses (worsens), that person feels out of control or powerless about their own behavior. When professionals receive addiction training, they increase their awareness that substance use can cause problems for patients.

Sometimes people affected by addiction do not easily realize that their participation in a substance or activity has caused substantial harm. Therefore, ASAM recommends using the term “medication” to refer to any FDA-approved drug used to treat addiction.

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